Yuki is a common Japanese name meaning 幸 happiness or 雪 snow, and while she lives up to its meaning, Yuki Tsuji is no ordinary woman. An avid mountaineer, yogi and entrepreneur, Yuki has accomplished more than most would even dream of and perhaps her Yuki-ism keeps her climbing higher:
Life experience, good or bad, has made each of us who we are today and in theory we all have a similar "ism", but for Yuki it is quite apparent in her everyday practice.
As a part of her everyday practice, Yuki keeps her Volkl Nanuk skis near the door (next to her climbing gear and yoga mat of course) for the chance to explore the lingering patches of snow tough enough to last throughout the warmer months. She is an inspiration to zealous female mountaineers because she too is a zealot. Her talent and drive are not limited to the mountains, she is also a phenomenal Acro Yoga instructor (featured in Yoga Journal) and specialist in Thai Massage.
I had the privilege to sit down with Yuki over a ridiculous cup of hot chocolate and enjoy stories of her wild side. She takes Yogi Gone Wild to a new height.
Here is the Sun Q&A on Yuki Gone Wild:
1. How old were you when you started skiing the Japanese Alps?
I believe I was 2 when I first put my red skis on my feet! Never looked back since then.
2. What is the most memorable ski mountaineering experience thus far?
Oh, I have too many good days out in the mountains...But this is rather painful experience from 2014. I went to ski Castle Peak and Conundrum Peak in July. Most of the approach was hiking so I had my hiking boots on until the base of the mountains. I left my hiking boots where snow started by some rocks. I had amazing time skiing both mountains and came back to where my boots were and they were nowhere to be found. I doubt that some hiker snagged them but saw a couple of marmots poking their heads out from the nearby rocks. I knew then that they stole my boots...Too late. I had to hike out with my ski boots for next 5 miles on a dirt road...I think that was the most painful experience hiking ever. My whole body got painful by the time I got back to the car since I walked so weirdly to avoid pain from my feet!!! That would be the last time marmots steal and eat my stuff...and don't get too lazy to carry your own boots...
3. What is your ski set up these days? Any gear you are in love with that we should know about?
I use the backcountry AT ski set ups. My absolute favorite binding is Dynafit TLT Radical. I had been skiing K2 GotBack for last several years. I'm loving my Scarpa Gea RS boots. This year, I have a slightly lighter set up. Volkl Nanuq. I love them already!
4. How did you get into yoga and what do you seek through your practice?
I started practicing yoga when I was in college in Boston 15 years ago. Early on, my practice was done in my tiny bedroom with "AM/PM Yoga with Rodney Yee & Patricia Walden" video. I have tried and practiced many different yoga styles, but was intrigued by Iyengar Yoga when I was in Florida. I ended up studying Iyengar Yoga for a long time. Now I teach a style of my own as well as AcroYoga which is a blend of yoga, acrobatics and Thai massage. I enjoy the focus, balance and calmness of yoga practice whether I'm on a mat or not. I use the short meditation in a seated position to come to quietness and clarity when I need nothing but silence inside me. Longevity of practice is important for me. Yoga is to create harmony and balance in my life. I enjoy teaching it because it also brings me a sense of softness and connection with the community.
5. Did you need to feed the adrenaline junkie within lead you to start acro yoga?
Not really. When I started AcroYoga practice, I was a skydiving instructor, competitor and a recreational BASE jumper, so I think I had enough highs from those activities. I got into AcroYoga because I was looking for different and new challenges in my life and more connection with other yogis and friends. I got sucked into the partner acrobatics practice pretty quick though. I was never a gymnast or an acrobat when I was young so learning something totally new was very fresh to me again but found many similarities and connections of "flying" the body in the air between skydiving and acrobatics. Lots of freedom in body expression and movements.
6. You mentioned women and self doubt in the backcountry. What are your thoughts on this? Does this happen to you?
Yes. Honestly, I think it happens to everyone, men and women alike. Am I strong enough for my partner? Will I make right decisions to stay safe? Do I know enough? I do not like making an excuse just because I'm a girl. But it's a fact that I get intimidated sometimes to be surrounded by male partners and friends in outdoors. So, I do my homework, I train hard and I stay open-minded. At the end, it all comes down to how much fun we are having so I like to contribute my part to the group, knowing that I have so much to offer. The experience does not come right away. I have many friends and mentors (both women and men) that guide me and support me to the right direction. Also, being able to express myself (emotions, concerns, opinions, etc) freely will help open up more conversation in the group. It's a practice of being honest to myself and others. It's not easy to do though, takes courage and practice!
7. How do you push through barriers to keep challenging yourself?
To me, patience is the key. I try to be patient to myself and outcomes in challenging situations. In the mountains, it's a bit easier for me to keep pushing because all I have to do is to stay mentally and physically strong and stay focused and engaged. There's no time to waste and every moment is precious when I'm in my element outdoors. I know how much I can push and I like to keep raising that bar. Again, I push myself only because I love what I do...when I stop loving it, it's time for me to quit, so I like maintaining the balance of fun and suffering, keep the fire burning for a long time..
8. How did you get involved in She Jumps?
I knew about SheJumps for a little while and finally connected with a CO director Mel Harms at the end of summer last year. My own passion and goals in outdoor activities have been getting bigger and at the same time, I noticed that I have a lot of male outdoor partners and a few female partners. My desire to share my passion with other women in outdoors have grown bigger thanks for my few inspiring female partners and friends that are getting out and being the leaders. SheJumps' mission aligns with me. My first day to support them was at the premier of Pretty Faces film in Boulder. I met many inspiring women that are involved in SJ there. Mel encouraged me to put on some outdoor education events in CO and after some brainstorming, I came up with 2 winter events for the season. SJ does a great job on mentoring system. Mel's my amazing mentor who steers me in the right direction so that I can motivate women to get outside!!
9. What do you do when you are not crushing pow or in the studio?
I enjoy rock climbing, training handstand/partner acrobatics, I'm also a Thai massage therapist, so I'm in my office in South Boulder a lot. I love hanging out with good friends.
For upcoming Yoga Yuki events, please visit:
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